Friday, July 30, 2010

My meadow and poo.

Here's something fun and potentially shocking - I'm not a totally delusional liar!

In the case of meadow grass, anyway.

Yes, friends - the meadow, MY MEADOW, has come in. Just as I imagined/predicted/hoped/shook my fist that it would way back last year when I defied all logic and flipped over my lawn.

No one wanted to mow anymore. I hated watering a stretch of grass that no one but the neighborhood dogs used and which didn't want to grow in the shade of our street trees anyway.

The lawn in the backyard? Well, that's there because OUR dog loves it and rolls in it and has accepted it as her own personal lord and savior (seriously, you should see her roll around on the thing - they are having a love affair. I'll stop now.), so I let it live on. Bubba mows it and I don't have to do anything except enjoy watching the dog roll all around on it and look blissfully happy, so it works for me.

The front yard though? No lawn. I'm not about providing a lush and high maintenance toilet for all these dogs, birds, cats and wildlife that roam our little neighborhood.

I bet you didn't know that the Silicon Valley area had wildlife did you? Well, it does. If you consider possums, squirrels, rats (barf), raccoons, hawks and skunks to be wildlife. Which I do. Because they poop anywhere they want. Though, in that definition, some of our neighbors' dogs could be considered wildlife. And that guy that drags the shopping cart down the middle of the street while he yells at his big spoon.

You know what I mean.

The meadow though - It's totally IN.

Which was the point of this post, anyway.  Whether any wildlife is pooping in it is beyond my knowledge. Which is how I prefer things. Though I can tell you a grody animal poop story later if you're interested. Think about it, I'll come back to it.

For now though - look:


I'm sorry folks, but that July shot looks a lot like a meadow would look if, say, someone were to drag their porch out into nature and then park their car next to it.

Thankfully, that fountain grass gets mighty tall, so I imagine I'll be able to take this picture again in another month and all signs of cars, gas meters, neighbors' kid's shitty cars and kitchen windows will be completely lost amidst the wild sea of flailing fountain grass.

Goodbye, neighbor's stuff.

Plus, I planted gaura galore from my mom's garden (thanks for the plant babies, ma!) and that shit gets huge and wild, so I should also be able to hide the hose (not shown)(because it's ugly) that's coiled up next to the porch and, HEY, most of the porch itself because whoopsy I planted a lot of gaura and also a Hot Lips salvia by the front step there and, well, both of those plants are low-water monsters.

They live to grow! They live to attract pollinators! They live to tickle your legs when you walk by! They live to invade every space around you with their nefarious seeds! They barely need water and don't care if you step on them in your heels! It's a good time.

All of this has seen the horrors of 4 inch heels and lived to tell the tale.

So, yes, I've planted things in addition to the grass plugs that like to grow big and strong without the assistance of regular watering and also like to reseed with abandon so that every year I don't have to go through the hamstring and back breaking agony that I did last fall right before I ran a half marathon.

Bad planning.

Also fun was when I decided last weekend that I would hand prune our Japanese maple. Yeah. Because that's a good thing for someone without any experience to do when all they have is the vague direction of an creepy arborist with questionable credentials.

"Just prune it the way you want it to look."

"And don't use shears. Just your hands."

"And don't cut the top branch."


Does it look normal? You decide. I mean, it's going to look how it looks now, because I have no control over how the thing grows, obviously, but maybe just tell me if you know anything about pruning Japanese maples that's more helpful than, "Just make it look the way you want it to look".

Not helpful. Can you imagine getting directions from this jackass? "Just drive the car to where you want to go."

Thanks, asshole.

Anyway, this post is derailing from its original purpose of telling you guys that the idea to scrape up the lawn, flip it over and plant grass plugs and wildflowers in it in order to create a personal low-water meadow is totally working.

And also Bubba has given me the thumbs up on getting a nice big stone to put out there so that, when it rains, a little water collects and creates a natural water feature for, like, the shitting anywhere birds and such. Fun!

So, for that grody poo story: (You thought about this, yes?)

Once upon a time I was standing on our brand newly minted front porch with Bubba and the contractor, saying our farewells and high-fiving ourselves on a porch that was in no way a result of our own handiwork, when I got a whiff of something FOUL.

Like Poo Foul.

It smelled like poo.

So, I checked my shoes, ever so inconspicuously I assure you, and found nothing. I tried peering under Bubba's shoes and saw nothing. I started to think maybe our awesome contractor had wandered through something Foul but saw no evidence of that either. And then the whiff hit me again.

Definitely poo.

And then, because I was standing on the porch where there was light and the whiff was coming from the yard, where there was no light, I squinted my eyes against the light and followed my nose ever so carefully toward the stench only to find that someone had:

A. Let their dog walk all the way up to our porch, even though it's plenty far from the sidewalk to make this totally inappropriate

B. Then let their dog take a monster dump IN THE MIDDLE OF ONE OF MY PLANTS

and then,

C. Not pick it up at all so that it could sit there and smolder in the warm springtime weather.

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, nice.

So, as we were celebrating the conclusion of our porch and the aliveness of our yard, a giant poo wafted in and ruined the moment.


But perhaps I will have the last laugh now that the yard has grown in to the point where I can have wildlife hiding out and waiting to pounce on the no-poo-picking-up owner and their giant-poo-pile-making dog.

Do you think I can entice a bobcat to come hide in my yard? They do live around here somewhere.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

It's all BLAH in there.

I've tried to write a decent post about something interesting four times in a row now, but my brain is crap on account of a very, let's say, demanding, week at work, so I'm officially giving up and showing you pickles.

Hey, it's what I've got.

I'll be back after this week of mind-sucking meetings with something about either front yard meadows, 80 pounds of beef, brown bikinis or what it's like to spend 10 years with a man who believes that one can not own too many tents.

Look forward to that.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Stop staring at me, tomato. [RecipeS]

You're aware that the garden's been busy. I know you are because I keep telling you.

But, what I haven't told you lately is what the F we're doing with all that garden business. Rude of me, I know.

I also haven't been telling you exactly what the F I'm doing with everything in the farmshare for the purposes of weekly Farmshare Project updates, and for that I apologize. In the sense that I'm sorry I decided to do a tedious weekly post that would actually be more useful for people being buried alive by chard if it were a directory of recipes listed out by scary, unknown or potentially hazardous amounts of vegetables.

So, I am just going to be telling you, at random intervals, what all I'm cooking with these vegetables (because LORD KNOWS WE EAT A LOT OF VEGETABLES) and then linking to those recipes from The Farmshare Project tab that lives on the top of the blog there.

Yes, there. Go look. There's a lot of recipes already. You know this, too, because I have already told you, but I won't hold it against you if you forgot. YOU DIDN'T FORGET DID YOU? Sorry. I promise I forgive you.

No hard feelings.

Meanwhile, in all of my rudeness I haven't told you my new favorite tomato sandwich, and that is just not right.

What am I if not a dedicated tomato sandwich maker? Nothing, that's what. I friggen' shell of a gardener, perhaps.

Anyway, I was working from home the other day with my tomato (it proof reads and provides much needed tea refills) and by the time lunch rolled around, I'd hatched a plan for its demise. This plan also included getting rid of some leftover ciabatta type bread before it went bad and some cheese.

Except we didn't have the typical eat-it-with-ripe-tomatoes-cheese: fresh mozzarella.

Sadness briefly washed over me until I realized that HOT DAMN we have blue cheese. And not just any blue cheese, but some fancy ass buttermilk blue cheese that needed to go before we could break into the Amish blue cheese I'd gotten to make Bubba's favorite chicken salad.

It's a specific schedule for the blue cheese and we must follow it closely.

Anyway, and let's not pay any attention to the fact that I have a variety of blue cheeses in my dairy drawer, when I finally approached the tomato and plucked it from the plant (you really have to love the satisfying *snap* these Better Boys make when they are picked) and marched it off to the kitchen for slicing, its fate had been sealed.

Finny's BCT (Blue Cheese Tomato - der.)
Recipe by moi
1 sun-warmed homegrown tomato, sliced
2 slices of ciabatta bread, lightly toasted
2 T crumbled (buttermilk) blue cheese
(Olive oil) mayo
Fresh cracked pepper

To make
Scrape just a bit of mayo on both sides of the sandwich, add black pepper to the top half, crumbled blue cheese to the bottom and stack the tomatoes on top of the blue cheese. Press the top half on there and cut it in half if you so desire.

And, right there, I just told you how to make a sandwich as though you've never made one before. Retarded!

Oh well. You forgive me now and we'll all go on with our lives.

Also, with these slowly ripening tomatoes, I made my go-to hot weather tomato dish: Mellow Tomato Pasta and paired it with my go-to WHAT THE F AM I GOING TO DO WITH ALL THESE BEANS beans: Roasted Green Beans.

Notice those purple beans turned green when cooked. Purple FAIL.

Those recipes can also be found on the Farmshare Project Tab because I love you a lot. See? It's true.

Don't believe me? I've found a way for you to kill green beans, carrots, peas, onions and fennel in one meal.


And if you happen to have most of a can of coconut milk threatening to go bad in your fridge, well, then you'll be extra happy, too.

I can't, however, take credit for the recipe because it's another Sunset one, but I totally recommend Pea and Carrot Coconut Curry if you're a curry person. Or a carrot person. Or a person woefully at a loss for what to do with all the vegetables included in the title. You get it.

The beans though? Let me tell you.

Roasted Beans with Fennel and Onion
Recipe from Live Earth Farm's newsletter

1 lb green beans, trimmed
1-2 fennel bulbs, sliced thinly (if you have a death wish, use the mandolin)
1 onion, sliced thinly (see dare above)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

To make
After taking your own life in your hands by choosing to use the greatly-feared mandolin, add enough oil to cover your thick-bottomed pan and, when its warmed and fragrant, add your sliced fennel and onion, stirring occasionally until it's browned. I hear this process is called, "brown frying", but I find most technical cooking terms to be subject to user invention, so who knows if that's a real thing.

Anyway, while your fennel and onion is frying and browning, steam your beans until just crisp. Rinse them with cool water so they don't get all brown and grody. 

Could we call that, "brown-grodying"? Probably.

Once all your fennel and onion shavings are brown and such, toss in your crispy steamed beans and give them a good toss with some salt and pepper - as much as YOU, specifically, like. Me? I'm a salt girl. Which may explain why I drink so much water and feel like my tongue is shriveling half the day, but hey, that's my issue.

When everything has mingled to your satisfaction, serve it alongside your Pea and Carrot Coconut Curry and bask in the glow of having killed many vegetables with one totally edible meal.

You rule.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Look at my melons.

When Bubba and I were at AIDS Walk on Sunday, I nearly tore myself off my bike mid-pedal (with the clip-ins, so it would have been messy) to get at a painfully cute Aussie puppy trotting along with its owners.

Seriously, I cried out. I made grabby hands. The puppy cut across in front of the lucky soul walking him to come toward my magnetic grabby hands. It was very nearly one of those cheesy reunite-y moments where violins play in the background.

Except I stayed on my bike (fucking pedals) and settled for making squeaky I LOVE YOU PUPPY noises in his direction and then probably (definitely) said something like, "Bubb! Did you see that puppy?? How fucking cute is he anyway?!" because I'm very classy and that is what you yell at the top of your lungs when impressionable children and drag queens dressed in leathers are right there.

Bubba, however, was halfway up the hill I was ignoring during my puppy loving moment and didn't hear me. Or, perhaps he didn't want to admit that he was associated with the psycho puppy chasing girl on the orange bike with the paper crown taped to her helmet.

Though, I'm not sure why.


Anyway, I told you that to tell you this: When I saw the first watermelons making their appearance on the vines later that day, I made the same squeaky I LOVE YOU PUPPY noises except I probably (definitely) said something like, "BUBB! Come look at my big melons!"

And then I think I heard my neighbor laughing.

So, that's how my maternal instinct plays out. Some people get all squeaky for human babies, I lose my shit over puppies and watermelons. Plus, it's always fun to make reference to big melons. It's half the reason I grow melons. The other reason is I don't know what. So that Bubba can make reference to my nice big melons, I suppose.

Though for now, the melons are small babies. But WHOA CRAP there are a lot of them. I haven't grown watermelons in a few years and I don't really remember how many babies would appear on the vines, but this one Moon and Stars plant, which was planted at random between the other two melons I was sure were going to die (and are now, of course, totally alive), probably has around a dozen babies on it right now.

Maybe I should have a baby shower. I could go for some cake.

Not really sure what we'd do with a dozen watermelons.

In other Baby Watermelon news: look at the Mexican Sour Gherkin cucumbers that look like super tiny watermelons.

Though you won't hear me shrieking, "Bubba! Come look at my super tiny melons!" because that would be contradictory. And I'm nothing if not consistent in my overly loud backyard proclamations.

Instead I think I'll yell something about pickles. Because my plan is to pickle these little weird things and give them as little weird pickled gifts come the holidays. If we don't eat them all first because WHOA can we eat some pickles.

And that is as far into that rabbit hole as I'm prepared to go.

To change the subject to something less lascivious, I've been updating the Garden Tracker (which also lives on the left side, there) and wouldn't you know that we crossed Zero Barrier (Dorks unite. Thank you.) a while back and we're well into Not a $64 Tomato territory.

In fact, we're into the black to the tune of $100+ dollars, so that's good news given we have an untold number of watermelons, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans and tomatillos yet to ripen and tip the scales ever farther into Cents Per Pound territory.

Last year I closed out the season with my investment of $91.34 reaping me hundreds of pounds of produce (literally, 273.98 lbs) for a value of $.33/lb.

This year, because I'm a psycho that way, I want to beat that. I want to come in with a value of $.32/lb or less. Perhaps I'm just missing having a running goal to bang on about, but I nearly called it a Sub-30 goal.

Wow. I've said too much.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Well, that only took 2 and a half months. [Tutorial]

Back in May I was over at Wendy's cruising her always creative posts when I got all inspired and mouthy over chalkboard paint and the associated markers and OH WHAT I WOULD DO with those things if I got them alone in a dark closet...wait, no, that was Hot Spock...OH WHAT I WOULD DO with those things if I had them in my house and near my bulk dry goods.

Yes. That's more like it.

(But really, isn't Hot Spock hot? Especially when he's slicing people's heads off on HEROES? Plus, funny. Sheesh - the hotness.)

Anyway, my closet is still Hot Spock-free, but I did finally triangulate the perfect combination of brush-on chalkboard paint (neater than the spray kind), chalk paint pens and AHA! chalk.

Yes, I had to buy actual chalk. I will tell you in a minute.

Anyway, I got them all in my house recently (minus Spock, sadly) and then had my filthy way with them. In the sense that when I was done, there was some paint on my hands and I had to throw away some tape and, well, there was a bit of a mess BUT THAT'S OK because now my cupboards look like this:

Also, what kind of person has currants in their cupboard? Freak.

I should have taken a "Before" photo, so that you could see how they looked just like boring recycled jars full of mysterious unknowable items (walnuts, almonds, pasta - who can recognize these things without labels?), but I bet you can just imagine it. You have so much practice at imagining things when I tell you to already anyway.

So, how did this all come to be? Let me tell you.

Recycled Dry Goods Containers


A variety of recycled glass jars with lids, labels removed
Chalkboard paint
Foam sponge brush
Chalk Ink pens
Painter's tape

To make
With your first jar, find a flat space on the side of the jar and, with your painter's tape, mark off a good sized rectangle.

Do this for all your jars.

Then, with your foam sponge brush, paint on a single layer of chalkboard paint, making sure not to leave any areas too thin.

Do this for all your jars.

Let them sit for about 30 minutes, or until the stuff seems dry to the touch. I think the paint container had the nerve to suggest leaving it overnight or for three days or some bullcrap, but you know I totally ignored that. What? Am I made of three days? No.

Remove the painter's tape carefully from all jars.

NOW you get to wait three days. Which wasn't my favorite news, but, as it turned out, was just fine because I had to pack for our trip to SoCal and had finally used up my last procrastination strategy by painting these jars when I was supposed to be finding my iPod headphones.

Also, running in SoCal was sucky. Since when is it humid in California? Yet another reason that SoCal is a different state than NorCal. Also, so many palm trees. And Mickey Mouse. Barf.

Moving on.

When you're back from LA, or wherever you travel at random to watch baseball games, get out your regular old chalk and, instead of writing, "School makes me puk [sic]" on your elementary school's handball court (name the childhood book that I can't believe just popped into my mind), scribble it across the painted part of your jar.

Fill it all in. Using the flat side works best, I found. After doing it like this once. Oops.

When you've covered it completely with your regular chalk, wipe it off with a towel or Bubba's shirt. It is now ready for writing with the chalk ink pen. FINALLY.

Before chalk. After chalk. You get it.

Get your pens out, realize you got the "Earthy Tones" ones, curse yourself for being so retarded as to not buy a WHITE one, begrudgingly choose the yellow one and start labeling your jars IF you can identify their contents.

Thankfully I didn't run across too many mystery items.

Then, because you're suspicious of all things that seem amazing and useful at the same time, test out the wipe-offable-ness of the ink.

Yup. Totally comes off.
Yup. Totally goes back on again.

Do all of your jars.

Then line them up in the cupboard and imagine everything else that needs chalkboard paint RIGHT NOW. Fight the urge to paint the cat.

Then celebrate the moment by Googling images of Zachary Quinto and ignoring the one of him in a sexy man-embrace with whoever that dude is.

Then cheer yourself up after that bummer of a photo you couldn't ignore by looking at one of your Hot Husband.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Adopt a Crop 2010 : Boom

We got back into town last night after dark, so I held off going out to the garden until this morning to see just what the hell it had been up to all unsupervised for three days and I think you know exactly what it did.


Cucumbers BOOM.

Tomatoes BOOM.

Potatoes BOOM.

Beans BOOM.

Melons BOOM.

Tomatillos BOOM.

Totally volunteer to the point where I don't even water it Sunflower BOOM.

Apples BOOM.

Thankfully, the cilantro has not yet gone boom, but it is producing and, since the jalapenos are producing as well and the farmshare keeps giving us onions, I will be making a small batch of salsa verde because the tomatillos are slightly BOOMing and I have a few rolling around in the crisper awaiting their first attempt at salsa.

Of all the booming going on (OK, I'm going to stop saying that word now. It's getting creepy.), the jelly melons are probably the most exciting to have doing anything because you know it's been really quiet in the jelly melon department so far.

I wonder what a jelly melon department would look like? Anyway.

Tiny green leaves are the jelly melon. The rest? It's the Moon and Stars watermelon. Yikes.

Before we left town, I gave the newly burgeoning jelly melon its own cage to climb up, since the johnny-come-lately-because-I-freaked-and-bought-a-melon-seedling Moon and Stars watermelon has gone hog wild and taken over the whole bed even though it wasn't supposed to be in there at all.

Spotted leaves are the Moon and Stars watermelon and solid green leaves are the Rattlesnake.

And this is what I get for being a spaz and buying one teeny Moon and Stars watermelon seedling because I thought all my melon seeds were going to be complete failures.

The watermelons have left the building.

Specifically, I get a Moon and Stars watermelon that wants it all. And by, "all", I mean - the yard, our house and the moon and all the stars.


We also want tomatoes.

Oh, and before I forget, before I left, I made the first batch of pickles for the season and, well, YUM.

I just ate that big fattie on the top there. PUCKER. Good.

What? Don't you eat dill pickles for breakfast after a roadtrip?

I'll never understand you.